Sometimes at CNET we go a long way in explaining the wonders of the universe: the staggering contrasts of black holes, violent collisions of neutron stars, the wobbling of the Moon’s orbit…but at other times, it’s better to be. Content to think in silence.
On Friday, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) released new images of our “neighborly” galaxies taken by two ground-based telescopes in Chile, the “Very Large Telescope” and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and the currently crippled NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. ). There is so much more to show them all in this article, so we invite you to visit it on the ESO . website.
Since the birth of stars
The observatory classifies these images as “Cosmic Fireworks”But let’s stop for a moment on these fireworks because they are so much more than that. Each of those little points of light you see in the main image for this article is a young star. And so there are thousands upon thousands of them in every picture, plus clouds of gas that will give rise to other copper ready to burn for billions of years.
Far from being just pretty pictures, these observations help astronomers better understand how stars form and evolve. Normally, gas and dust accumulate together due to gravity. In this cosmic cloud, atoms collide violently so that fusion reactions begin to drive the star. ESO images provide an overview of the different stages in a star’s life.
“We can directly observe the gas that generates stars, see the same young stars and witness their evolution through different stages”Eric Emselm, an astronomer at ESO, explains in a press release.
The astronomers focused on the galaxies close to us and chose the three telescopes because they allowed obtaining images of different wavelengths (visible, near-infrared and radio). By overlaying these different shots they were able to create these amazing shots “fireworks”. But the experiment could also help researchers unravel other mysteries related to the birth of stars.
Getting more images of these galaxies can help answer some specific questions. For example, in which galaxy can we expect a star to form and why?
The catalog of imaged galaxies is growing, and we are just beginning to understand the diversity of these stellar nurseries. This knowledge will be bolstered by new instruments, notably NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is much delayed but will eventually be able to image the universe in unprecedented detail. On Earth, ESO also plans to operate the Very Large Telescope later this decade.
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